THE FOOD OF UNITY
“Do this in remembrance of Me.” –1 Corinthians 11:24
The early Church met in homes for the first several centuries of its existence. The liturgical form of the Mass was still evolving. Thus, the admonitions St. Paul mentions in today’s first reading may sound foreign to our ears (1 Cor 11:20-22). There was some fellowship and hospitality in the homes in addition to the Mass. Some people overindulged while others went hungry.
Decades ago, I attended a retreat which illustrated the scenario mentioned in today’s first reading very nicely. The retreat closed with a common meal in which everyone ate together in a large dining room. The food would be distributed in the same proportions as the population of the world would eat that evening. A few people were given a full steak and shrimp dinner with wine. Several others were served a meal of hamburger, potatoes, and milk. The other 75% of the retreatants were served a meager bowl of beans and rice with water to drink. All were instructed to eat together at the same large table. No one could share food or drink. Those with a plentiful meal commented afterward how much they wished they could share their food with those who had little. The message was one of unity and to live simply so that others could simply live.
The Church no longer serves any food at Mass except the Eucharist, the food of unity. Unity was St. Paul’s objective, and is also that of Jesus (see Jn 17:21). We call the Eucharist “Communion,” a word which can mean “Common Unity.” Let us go to Mass in remembrance of Jesus, and not of our own desires.
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, Source of Unity (Eph 4:3), may everything we do, whether we eat or drink (1 Cor 10:31), be done to gather together into one the dispersed children of God (Jn 11:52).
PROMISE: “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. Do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” —1 Cor 11:25
PRAISE: St. Robert sought unity both with and within the Church. His students became missionaries and martyrs.